MIRPUR (AJK)-The 12th anniversary of the devastating earthquake which hit the region on October 8, 2005 was observed across Azad Jammu & Kashmir on Sunday while thousands of projects for their rehabilitation have been left incomplete due to lack of funds.

The government had identified about 800,000 projects for the reconstruction work in the earthquake-hit areas of AJK at a cost of Rs210 billion. After 12 years down the line still thousands of projects are still incomplete due to lack of funding or other reasons.

The anniversary was observed as the National Disaster Awareness Day and as 'day of firmness and determination for reconstruction in memory of earthquake martyrs'. Special prayers were held for the rest of the departed souls in eternal peace. The people expressed complete solidarity and sympathies with the survivors of the history's worst natural catastrophe.

The 7.6 magnitude earthquake had jolted Azad Kashmir and parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at 8:52am on October 8, 2005. Muzaffarabad, the regional capital, was ground-zero in the catastrophic temblor. The city and the entire region to Balakot was left virtually unrecognizable when the earth stopped shaking leaving over 80,000 people dead and thousands of others injured.

In Azad Jammu & Kashmir, the day dawned with special prayers for the martyrs of the earthquake. Prayers were also held for the liberation of Indian occupied Kashmir.

Fateh Khawani and Quran Khawni were offered for thousands of martyrs who lost their lives in the quake-hit districts of Azad Kashmir and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Acting Prime Minister of Azad Jammu & Kashmir Raja Nisar Ahmed laid floral wreath at the memorial of the martyrs in the capital town. Ministers and a large number of local people attended the ceremony.

Azad Jammu and Kashmir flag remained at half-mast on all public buildings of the state to mark the anniversary.

Children dwelling in Kashmir Orphan Relief Trust (KORT) Complex Mirpur after they lost their parents in the devastative earthquake marched in the memory of their loved ones in Mirpur. The walk started from Quaid-i-Azam Cricket Stadium was also attended by students and other local people in large number.

Fateha Khwani also observed for the quake victims who died in the collapse of Islamabad's Margallah Tower. Scouts and university students laid flowers for the martyrs at the memorial.

The major ceremony to mark the day was held in the capital city of Muzaffarabad, with the sign of deep rooted love and affection by the government and the people of Pakistan as well as the national and international NGOs and brotherly foreign countries. they contributed their exceptional share for the rebuilding and rehabilitation of the quake-hit zone of AJK, State National Disaster Management Authorities said.

A big ceremony was held at the Mirpur Cricket Stadium where Fateha Khawani was held for the martyrs. Simultaneously, sirens sounded at 8.52am and two-minute silence was observed in the morning of the victims of the catastrophe at a ceremony to be held at Quaid-i-Azam Cricket Stadium.

Another ceremony was held at the Municipal Corporation Hall Mirpur where people from all walks of life - social and political workers, volunteers and the heads of the nation building institutions - were present mark the anniversary.

Several of the mega development projects have been completed in the AJK capital in the wake of the broad based plan to rehabilitate the AJK metropolis on latest grounds giving modern civic and other infrastructural facilities. Similar special ceremonies including walks for awareness, seminars and symposiums were also held in various parts of AJK including Mirpur, Kotli and Bhimber districts.


FAISALABAD: Rescue 1122 workers participate in a mock exercise conducted at UAF to mark National Disaster Awareness Day.–APP